Food Facts · Holidays

The color red(40) wrecked our family Christmas!

A season as red as Rudolph’s nose.


As I pack up all the Christmas decorations and put them back in storage, all the shiny red ornaments give me reason to pause and reflect on how the color red almost broke my family’s Christmas spirit this year.  We recently discovered through basic trial and error that our oldest son is sensitive to food dyes.  If he consumes too much of them it results in loss of impulse control, hyperactivity, and trouble focusing on school work.

I used to think this kind of thing was science fiction until the day my son thanked me for removing food dyes from his diet and helped his brain not “buzz” anymore.

This is a subject that I am just beginning to understand. I plan to share more of our experiences in the future.  Nevertheless, if you are curious to learn more right now I highly recommend taking time to view this 20-minute video by Dr. Rebecca Bevans.

Red is for love. We love peppermint cupcakes!

For our church’s annual Christmas gathering, everyone was asked to bring a dessert to share.  I always feel that it’s important for our boys be able to safely enjoy at least one fun treat along with everyone else at group events.  So what could I possibly make that was allergy-safe, tasty for all, and holiday appropriate?  Personally, I have never been skilled at baking from scratch much less baking gluten-free.  Also, with so many other food allergies to manage it’s easy for me to get discouraged when needing to avoid food dyes as well.  Thankfully, there are many wonderful gluten-free bakers and companies out there to help us along.  My youngest and I had a blast making these (dye free, dairy free, egg free, gluten-free) peppermint cupcakes.  They may just become a new Christmas tradition for us!

Peppermint Cupcakes

  1. Choose your favorite way of making cupcakes.  My favorite method so far is Cherrybrook Kitchen mixes for both cakes and cookies.  They are one of the few companies I’ve found who produce gluten-free mixes that work well without egg and taste yummy!IMG_20171203_164720920.jpg

Tip ~ I have gotten the best tasting results from these mixes when I make sure to bake, cool, and frost the cake or cupcakes all in the same day.  Gluten-free baked goods tend to dry out too easily on the counter and are not as resilient as their wheat-based cousins.

     2. Whip up the peppermint frosting.


1/2 cup dairy-free, soy-free butter substitute ( We use Earth Balance.)

2 Tablespoons dairy-free milk of your choice (We use Pacific original rice milk.)

2 to 2 ½ cups confectioners’ sugar, sifted

2-6 drops peppermint essential oil ( My favorite peppermint oil is available here.


Combine all ingredients in mixing bowl and stir until a smooth frosting is achieved. A basic hand mixer makes this a breeze.

~ Begin with the 2 cups of sugar, and add more sugar as needed to get the consistency you like.

~ You may also alter the amount of milk as needed. Add just a teaspoon at a time until the desired consistency is reached.

~ Enjoy topping your cooled gluten-free cupcakes. 🙂

Adapted from:

3. Decorate cupcakes with crushed dye-free candy canes.  We used Wholesome Organic Candy Canes from our local grocery store.


For added festive fun, we used Santa themed cupcake papers as well!


These cupcakes were a huge hit with everyone, not just our boys.  We made two dozen to share at our church’s event and only brought back eight!  Of course, those last few were gone within a couple of days.  I think it was Santa’s elves 😉

Wishing you a simple, clean, and safe 2018.

Happy New Year!

Food Facts · Holidays

Sweet Potatoes and Wild Orange oil – better together than PB&J!

Traditions build healthy connections.

Growing up I enjoyed many simple fun holiday traditions with my family.  There was always turkey at Thanksgiving, grandma’s rainbow jello for Christmas, and lemon cake with homemade frosting was the perfect ending to our classically German pork and sauerkraut for New Years.  I had never given it much thought back then about how many holiday traditions are centered around food.  People love to share the joy of the holidaysvintage_Thanksgiving with food.  I have great memories of making Christmas cut-out cookies with my mom and decorating them with all different colors of frosting and sprinkles!  When my husband and I decided to start our family, I looked forward to sharing my family’s traditions with my own children.  All those warm memories of holiday foods came crashing down hard when my first child was found to be severely allergic to all dairy, all nuts, egg, and fish.  Every Thanksgiving turkey was covered in butter, my grandma’s rainbow jello was filled with sour cream (dairy), and that lovely lemon cake was full of eggs and more dairy!  Suddenly, every holiday became a battlefield of struggling to keep my young son safe and included while still trying to share in the joy of the holidays.  I was devastated to put it mildly.  

Over the past several years, I have spent a lot of time reshaping my perspective on classic holiday traditions and finding new joy in creating new ones that are safer and healthier for my family as a whole.  An article in Psychology Today discusses how holiday traditions provide a sense of predictability and comfort in an ever-changing fast-paced world.  I believe it is important for me, as a parent, to be a source of constant and comforting support for my children and rebuilding holiday traditions that accommodate their food allergies in fun and creative ways is all part of that process.

I’m “sweet on” sweet potatoes.

I have learned that food allergies and sensitivities don’t have to mean the end of delicious traditions during the holidays.  That’s not to say that special diet changes don’t require a little extra time, planning, and understanding.  Believe me, they do!  Nevertheless, I encourage everyone this Thanksgiving to try a few new things to keep the feast a little more fresh, clean, and safe for all our guests.

For example, my wild orange sweet potato bake has become a family favorite at our Thanksgiving table.  It’s completely dairy, nut, gluten, and egg free but still loaded with flavor.  Sweet potatoes are also a terrific source of Vitamin A and C.  Feel free to add it to your Thanksgiving menu this year or any time you’re in the mood for delicious and nutritious comfort food during these colder months.


Scalloped Sweet Potatoes with Apples Recipe

Makes: 6 – 8 servings


  • 3 large sweet potatoes
  • 3 Granny Smith apples
  • 3/4 cup firmly packed brown sugar
  • 6 drops Wild Orange essential oil  ( My favorite wild orange oil is available here. )
  • 1 tsp grated orange rind
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 cup dairy-free butter substitute*  ( I prefer Earth Balance dairy-free, soy-free spread. )

* If you can and prefer to use actual butter, I highly recommend Hartzler’s salted roll butter.  It’s amazing!


  1. Cook sweet potatoes in boiling water to cover 45 minutes; drain and cool slightly. Peel sweet potatoes, and cut into 1/4-inch-thick slices. Peel, core, and thinly slice apples into rings.
  2. Combine brown sugar and next 4 ingredients.
  3. Arrange half of potato slices and half of apple slices in a lightly greased 13- x 9-inch baking dish.  Sprinkle with half of brown sugar mixture, and dot evenly with half of butter.  Repeat procedure with remaining ingredients.
  4. Bake at 350° for 1 hour. Serve warm.
Adapted from the following recipe originally provided by Southern Living:

Wild Orange … a tasty way to uplift your mood.  


What makes my wild orange sweet potatoes really stand out is the wild orange essential oil. Wild orange doesn’t just add great flavor, it has a therapeutic effect on the body as well.  True Wild Orange essential oil reduces anxious feelings, calms your nerves, and uplifts your mood.  It is considered the “oil of abundance” because of it’s ability to support feelings of generosity, creativity, and  playfulness.  In light of the stress around the holidays, Wild Orange is a  wonderfully positive oil to experience and share this time of year.

Sources: Modern Essentials, Eighth Edition and Emotions and Essential Oils, Fourth Edition

Blessings and Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!


Happy (Safe) Halloween

To learn more about the Teal Pumpkin Project, visit

This is a just a sampling of what has worked for our family.  Companies are offering more allergy friendly treats all the time.  I encourage you to keep exploring new options and let creativity be your guide.


  • Please check all ingredient labels as they are subject to change at any time.
  • Always call ahead for availability.
  • Stock up and be prepared for your next Halloween and/or holiday.

Non-food Treats

bounce balls





Lots more ideas at

Dairy Free, Nut Free, Gluten Free, Dye Free

YumEarth organic pops

Black Forest Organic Sour Heads

Black Forest Organic FruityChews

Organic JellyBelly jelly beans

Enjoy Life mini cookies

Enjoy Life chocolate minis

Free2B Caramel Cups

Dairy Free, Nut Free, Gluten Free



Mike and Ike’s

DumDum suckers


Where To Buy:



Raisin Rack